Adobe's Bruce Chizen Chats with CNet on 'PDF Everywhere' Strategy
CEO also wishes company had dealt differently with ElcomSoft situation

30 September 2003

By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

Adobe Systems CEO and President Bruce Chizen discusses the company's growing reliance on and expectations for PDF in a just-posted CNet interview, a day after Adobe announced its new Creative Suite of integrated applications.

As writer David Becker explains:

" ... with its Portable Document Format (PDF) now widely used for distributing documents electronically, Adobe now wants to expand the PDF format into a multiplatform foundation for viewing and sharing corporate data. It's an ambitious plan that will likely bring Adobe into more direct competition with Microsoft ..."

Chizen recalls when Adobe began to see PDF as more of a cash crop than it had in the technology's formative years, including a period when the continued development of Acrobat was debatable even within Adobe:

"During about 1998 or 1999, we started having customers ask us to do more around the PDF and the Acrobat Reader. We realized that if we could provide more applications around the PDF as the file format and Acrobat Reader as the rendering platform, not only could we make many customers much more efficient and productive, but it could be a valuable revenue opportunity."

And another question recalled Adobe's controversial involvement in the FBI's arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov of ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. for developing a product that could decrypt PDF-based eBooks:

CNet: "Some of the broadest attention Adobe has gotten in recent years was surrounding the ElcomSoft case. Any regrets about how that was handled?"

Chizen: "Looking back with 20/20, I wish that we could have had better communication with ElcomSoft, Dmitry Sklyarov and the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) before the whole thing went public. I'm sorry that we weren't able to do that, because I think we could have resolved a lot of the issues.

I think the bigger issue was it was an attack on Adobe, yet all we were trying to do was protect the intellectual property of our customers. We're not the ones who make the law. There are a lot of important people in the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration who are determining the laws of this country. Once they make a law, we're a corporate citizen; we have an obligation to follow that law. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is irrelevant at this point in time. It was brought to our attention that somebody was violating the laws of this country. We have an obligation then to notify the correct authorities about what's going on. That I don't regret."

As to the oft-rumored confrontation over the enterprise market with Bill Gates and Microsoft, Chizen says "There may be 70 million people who could really take advantage of what we offer." Additionally, he says that what Adobe is "focused on ... those corporations that are truly multiplatform, internally and externally."

Chizen also mentions that Adobe is working to reduce the "launch time" of the free Adobe Reader, a frequent criticism with version 6.0. Asked if Adobe is concerned about the apparent lackluster sales to date of Acrobat Elements, Chizen notes that he's "surprised that more people didn't move to Acrobat Elements, but I wouldn't say I'm disappointed." Most seem to be purchasing Acrobat 6 Standard instead, he says.

Check out the full interview, which covers a number of other relevant topics, at "Adobe's PDF-everywhere strategy."


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